A reader suggested that my work history might provide some reading fodder. Tell me what you think. It might contain stuff like the following:
It was in the late 70’s. November. Cold as hell. I was running the skid row medical clinic and one of the board members came to my office, her incredible bosom revealing itself a half second before the rest of her came into view. She was something, she was. Actually, she was more than just one thing, there were three of her.
Alice had been a prostitute, alcoholic and drug addict for years. Then she graduated to picking pockets and small time hustles to keep her and her five children alive and the family together. Wasn’t easy. They were all from different fathers and the men in her life were numerous, omnipresent and ill-fitting, like the tight clothing that incarcerated what should have been illegal breasts.
I say they should have been made illegal because they once almost killed me but I’ll come back to that. First a bit about who she really was.
“Hey, Dave. We got any money in the budget to hire someone?”
Alice had graduated after the pick-pocket and hustle phase to being a bona fide social worker and board member of the clinic. Her natural intelligence and attention-getting appearance made her effective on the drug addled streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and her ability to defend herself when necessary – which was often and always successful – made her a great social worker. She was tough, smart, effective and, like the proverbial prostitute with a big heart, she was now an ex-prostitute with a big heart.
“Sorry. No money. Broke as usual. Just putting together another grant request. Why?”
Alice stepped aside and pushed a tall, old man with an erect bearing towards my desk. Mohan Dhahliwal snapped his heels together, gave me a perfect military salute and greeted me with a sharp, “Suh!”
Seems Mohan had lived his entire life in India until a year or so ago when his son brought him to Canada. But Mohan was so ‘old school military’ and Indian having spent his whole life serving God and country in the Indian army, that the son and daughter in law were ashamed to be seen in public with him. They were embarrassed. They kept Mohan locked in their basement and only brought him out for meals. He felt humiliated and, on a whim one day, had run away.
Mohan resided in Nanaimo when he escaped. He was wearing only pajamas and slippers in freezing rain when he made his way to the ferry at Departure bay. Somehow, he got aboard the boat and somehow he managed to get into the centre of Vancouver and ended up in a flop house where Alice kept tabs on people. She didn’t feel the flophouse environment was the right match for this guy and so she enticed him to follow her to the clinic where she intended to find him employment and then, with her own money, she was going to front him his rent in a better place.
Of course, on the way to see me, she stopped by another social service and dressed him somewhat more appropriately. Standing before me was an ex-military, 75 year old Sikh who stood well over six feet tall and had the air of a colonel. His language skills were minimal but his ‘ready-for-duty’ attitude was obvious. He was eager to please his new commander – whoever it was. Alice wanted it to be me.
So, I agreed to hire Mohan as a part-time janitor and Alice found him a place down the street. He was never late. He was always hard working. He was so honest that he brought me pennies and other litter he found while doing his rounds. Mohan, at 75 and almost unilingual with virtually no relevant education, was the best employee we ever had if you measure that reference by loyalty, hard work and dedication to his job. We became friends.
Having said that, Mohan always saluted me. Every morning. And he never left without ‘checking out’ formally. “Five o’clock, Suh! Good night, Mr. David!” We were friends but I was his commander and that was the way it was.
Now to the boobs that kill. I doubt that even Arthur Conan Doyle could make this stuff up.
Early 80’s. I had been gone from the clinic for a few years. I was driving west on Broadway in my Datsun 311, a somewhat distinctive sports car. Traffic was moving well and we had just passed through the intersection at Granville. Mid block and, for no reason apparent, the car ahead of me slammed on the brakes. I barely stopped before hitting it. Out of the driver’s seat spun Alice, monumental breasts already gaining unstoppable momentum. She was wearing a yellow halter top that was like a headband on two watermelons. I jumped out of the car as she ran straight at me with her arms open wide. You can only imagine the sight.
I was glad to see her, too, even though her face was obliterated from my view every second step or so and, as we began too-rapid docking maneuvers, I must have made the mistake of breathing out. I exhaled. Little did I know, it was almost my last. We collided in exuberant friendship and she grabbed me by the back of my head. Squealing with delight at having seen me, disrupting traffic and having me in her arms, she slammed my face deep into her bosom.
But I was out of air. I tried to breathe. It was not possible. My lungs were completely deflated by my ill-timed exhale a second before and all I could feel was all enveloping, soft pink flesh, so much of it that my head was almost completely covered in boob. And I was fading fast. My knees felt weak and I was a second away from passing out. Her breasts were being sucked into my nostrils as I fought for survival. It was horrible. No, really! I was collapsing in the middle of stopped traffic in the 1500 block of Broadway because of an assault by a couple of friendly giants. If it weren’t so terrifying at the time, it would have been embarrassing. Or funny. As it was, it was almost deadly.
Rescue came as my knees folded and my head pulled down her halter top. Inadequate at the best of times, it began to reveal even more of the problem and she let me go to save her modesty. I thank God to this day that, after all those years on the wrong side of the modesty tracks, she still had some to save. It was what saved me. That rescue act allowed the last vestige of my life spark to restart my breathing. It was a miracle. I was alive and soon to recover my usual appreciation for a large, soft bosom. But, for the next few minutes of that day, I kept my distance.
Working in Skid Row can be dangerous in so many ways. A lot of danger lurks there in the shadows, the corners and the cleavage of the big smoke.
And that was just one of the stories of my naked city.